NHS weight loss dietitian shares 5 office packed lunch options – from budget-friendly to 10-minute meals

Maybe you have every intention of eating a healthy lunch, but have no idea where to start.

A good place is advice from a dietitian, who knows exactly how to make a meal healthy but fast, affordable and tasty.


Packed lunches to suit all needs are shared by a dieticianCredit: Getty
Nutritionist Lucy Jones


Nutritionist Lucy JonesCredit: Provided

Save these meal ideas for the next time you need inspiration.

Lucy Jones, Dietitian and Chief Clinical Officer at NHS weight management provider Oviva, reveals what lunches she prepares for a day at the office…

1. 10-minute meal

Spending an extra hour of your lunch time preparing for the week on Sunday is just some people’s bag.

But they don’t have to rely on expensive and mostly unhealthy store-bought lunches, either.

Lucy says: “When you’re short on time the night before work or in the morning, the 10-minute packed lunch is a lifesaver.

“Layer spinach and veggies, like cucumber slices, tomato wedges and bell pepper strips, along with shredded feta cheese in a whole wheat pitta.

“The combination of chickpeas in the hummus, vegetables and a bit of protein and healthy fat from the feta makes for a very nutritious lunch.

“The beauty of pitta is that you can mix things up to keep it interesting and pretty much build on what you have in the fridge.

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“If you want a meat option, try a chicken salad version, adding chicken, salad and homemade dressing – a third of a cup of natural yogurt, two tablespoons of lemon juice and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, with any herbs desired with you and some. salt and pepper.

“You could also try another cheese such as halloumi, with roasted red peppers in a brocade or with slices of hard-boiled egg with some baby spinach and chives.”

2. Plant-based

It’s not just vegetarians who eat plant-based. Meat eaters can also benefit from it.

And plant-based doesn’t just mean eating ‘plants’, AKA fruits and vegetables.

Lucy says: “Going meatless doesn’t mean skipping protein.

“I love a Buddha bowl with plant-based proteins like beans and grains.

“Pick up some microwavable packets like brown rice, quinoa, or a rice/grain mix to save time, then fill your bowl with a variety of vegetables and plant-based products, like tofu/edamame beans (you can also buy them frozen) .

All supermarkets now sell packets of mixed cereals that you can eat hot or cold. Most serve two people.

Lucy says: “Think about texture when building the bowl – I like to add crunch to things like carrot or onion.

“Including avocado is always a big win, as the healthy fats in avocado promote nutrient absorption and satiety.

“Finish with a lemon vinaigrette dressing – three parts oil to one part acid (vinegar or lemon) is generally a good benchmark for making any dressing – but make sure you do the taste test.

“You can layer this nicely when preparing meals. I tend to keep the dressing in a separate pot and add it when I’m in the office, to avoid it getting soggy.

“This vegan lunch provides sustained energy without leaving you feeling depleted.”

A 'Buddha bowl' usually contains a grain source, such as quinoa or cous-cous, protein, such as chicken, egg or tofu, vegetables, a healthy fat such as avocado, and extras.  Top with dressing


A ‘Buddha bowl’ usually contains a grain source, such as quinoa or cous-cous, protein, such as chicken, egg or tofu, vegetables, a healthy fat such as avocado, and extras. Top with dressingCredit: Getty

3. Low-carb

Some prefer the keto way – low carbohydrates, but higher proteins and fats.

Or you may feel less sluggish after lunch if you limit carbs.

So what would Lucy do?

Lucy says: “Big salads with lots of low carb toppings are my go-to.

“Start with a leafy green base such as spinach or a bag of mixed salads. Then add protein from grilled chicken breast or baked salmon.

“Mix in other low-carb veggies like avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and radishes.

“Nuts and seeds are a good addition. You can buy packets of mixed seeds; chucking a few on top adds healthy fats and crunch.

“With these types of salads, you can add any dressing you want, depending on your preference. Sometimes simple and balsamic is best and olive oil keeps it fast.”

4. Keep in the refrigerator

For those who like to prepare and dust the meal, they will be looking for something that will keep in the fridge for days.

Lucy says: “Making meals with lentils is one of my favorite lunch hacks.

“Lentils are very budget-friendly and packed with plant-based protein and fiber to keep you satisfied.

“Cook a big batch of lentils at the start of the week, then you have a versatile source of protein ready to mix into salads, grain bowls or wraps.

“For salads that will keep for several days, heartier vegetables such as roasted beetroot, kale and red cabbage work. These nutrient-dense bases hold up well without getting soggy.

If you’re working from home, baked beans with a little cheese will get you your protein, fiber and fats.

Lucy JonesDietitian and Chief Clinical Officer at NHS weight management provider Oviva

“Every morning, top your pre-prepared greens with a scoop of lentils, pre-cooked chicken, tuna or a cheese like feta, and a bright dressing like lemon vinaigrette.

“If I’m in the mood for a warm, comforting lunch, lentils work well here too.

“Good batch cooker cooking recipes include lentil spice and sweet potato stew; Sauté some onions, garlic and ginger, then add chopped sweet potatoes, red lentils, vegetable or chicken stock, and your favorite curry powder or spice mix.

“Let it simmer until the lentils and potatoes are soft. You can easily make a large batch that keeps in the fridge to reheat.

“Another tasty option is smoked lentil chilli. Brown some turkey or beef, if using meat, then add cooked green or brown lentils, a tin of tomatoes, peppers, chilli seasoning and stock.

“Top with fresh coriander, avocado and a dollop of Greek yoghurt. It’s a protein and fiber packed lunch to power you through the afternoon.

“These hot lentil lunches also freeze well for longer term meal prep. Thaw overnight and then repeat in the microwave.”

5. Budget option

You will already be saving money by preparing lunch at home. But how can you stretch your pennies?

Lucy says: “Eating healthy on a budget is possible with some smart shopping.

“Canned fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon are particularly important for this, as they are often relatively cheap and contain lots of healthy fats.

“You can’t go wrong with a canned fish sandwich here. Use whole wheat bread, swap out the mayo for yogurt and add some cucumber or sweet corn and salad.

“Other budget-friendly proteins include hard-boiled eggs, beans and lentils.”

For example, make a salad with chopped iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato, with chickpeas, a few boiled eggs and chopped crispy bacon.

Add yogurt dressing with two tablespoons of yogurt, a teaspoon of mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

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Lucy says: “If you’re working from home, beans on toast with a bit of cheese will get you your protein, fiber and fats.”

What are the potential benefits of going plant based?

There is no ‘best diet’ – even though vegans and meat eaters will tell you otherwise.

Scientists say the ‘best diet in the world’ is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods but also includes some red meat and fish.

Other diets that fall under ‘plat-based’ include vegan, pescatarian and flexitarian.

So what is ‘plant-based’ and how can it benefit you?

What is plant based?

The easiest way to consider plant-based is vegetarian.

But while the main focus of a vegetarian diet is to avoid meat, the main focus of a plant-based diet is to eat as many plants as possible, ie fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Why is it beneficial?

The Mediterranean diet – a good example of a predominantly plant-based diet – has been shown in large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast and prostate cancer ). ) and depression, says Harvard Health.

Plant-based diets are often higher in fiber, which has been linked to the prevention of bowel cancer (the opposite is true of red and processed meats).

Fiber can also help with weight management.

What to be aware of

Anyone who eats mainly vegan or vegetarian may need to supplement if they are not meeting nutrient targets, namely iron ​​​​​​​​and B12.

Also, many plant-based products that are versions of fake meat or cheese may seem healthier on the surface but are often loaded with salt or other processed ingredients .

If you’re going to try plant-based, it’s a good idea to learn some new recipes rather than relying on meat substitutes.

Plant-based food list

  • Vegetables
  • Results
  • Whole grains (brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat, bulgur)
  • legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, peas, lentils and more)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and more)
  • Plant-based proteins (tofu and tempeh)

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